So some of us Orlando City SC supporters were panicking after gameweek two with just two points to show from two home games but now?
Well, it’s still early days of course but we wouldn’t be football supporters if we weren’t daring to dream about what 2016 might hold after a fantastic morale boosting 4-1 victory over reigning MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers yesterday evening at the Citrus Bowl.
Adrian Heath‘s Lions were in a determined mood right from the very first blast of referee Alan Kelly’s whistle last night with almost everything going right, bar a hamstring injury picked up by Cyle Larin of course.
Yeah, let’s not even think about our Canadian hitman being out for any significant period of time!
But still, Larin’s unfortunate first-half withdrawal only served to drive our Lions on even more in all honesty with Seb Hines‘ 13th minute header opening the floodgates for Brek Shea and Kevin Molino to net their first Major League Soccer goals for Orlando City SC, not to mention the majestic Kaká scoring on a sumptuous return to the fold.
Considering Portland Timbers had only lost one of their last 12 MLS fixtures heading into last night’s encounter, Adrian Heath and Lions fans can feel delighted with the team’s efforts with former reigning champs LA Galaxy having also been humiliated on their travels to the Citrus Bowl last season.
We could get used to this dethroning habit our Lions have going on right now!
But anyway, last night’s 4-1 victory over Caleb Porter’s Timbers has prompted us to put together a list of arguably the FIVE best Orlando City SC MLS games witnessed at the Citrus Bowl so far. Do you agree with our choices?
If you have a suggestion, let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the article or tweet us at @Orlando_CityUK!
Orlando City SC vs Portland Timbers – April 3, 2016
So first up on our list is of course last night’s emphatic victory over the reigning MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers.
Heading into the game off the back of a 0-1 away win at New York City FC, Adrian Heath‘s Lions needed to put in a convincing showing at home after two nervy opening fixtures against both Real Salt Lake and Chicago Fire.
But City delivered when it mattered making seasoned MLS professionals such as Nat Borchers look distinctly average, not to mention successfully nullifying the threat of Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe, Dairon Asprilla and Fanendo Adi, popularly regarded as one of, if not the best attacking threat in all of Major League Soccer.
The night was made extra special through a morale boosting first ever Lions strike for Brek Shea who has needed a truly big performance for some time while Kevin Molino also plundered his first MLS strike, not to mention Kaká reminding everybody just what a class act he is on the field as well as off it.
— Orlando City UK (@Orlando_CityUK) April 4, 2016
Going top of the MLS Eastern Conference on the back of the win to boot, this win would have led to a lot of sore heads at work on Monday morning!
Orlando City SC vs New York City FC – March 8, 2015
Now we were going to include last season’s thumping 5-2 home win over the new club we love to hate – Columbus Crew SC – but we’ve edged it out of the top five for this particular game; mainly due to sentimental reasons of course!
While Orlando City SC’s first ever fixture in Major League Soccer won’t go down as a classic in the footballing sense of the word, it was still an incredibly overwhelming moment for the city and those that had just realised a dream that was playing out before their very eyes.
We’re talking about the likes of Phil Rawlins and Adrian Heath who had been on the journey to MLS all the way from Austin and when Kaká struck that deflected stoppage time equaliser to cancel out Mix Diskerud’s 76th minute opener, Orlando fell even more helplessly in love with the Beautiful Game.
What a moment and in front of 62,510 spectators as well who helped #FillTheBowl for a simply incredible atmosphere, arguably never before witnessed in MLS!
Orlando City SC vs LA Galaxy – May 17, 2015
Orlando City SC 4 LA Galaxy 0 – May 17, 2015 (Credit: Orlando City Brasil)
When reigning MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy arrived at the Citrus Bowl in mid-May 2015, Bruce Arena’s side didn’t know what’d hit them come the full-time whistle as Adrian Heath‘s Lions simply blew away one of MLS’ most decorated teams.
With Eric Avila and Cyle Larin putting the Lions 2-0 up at the break, it was a case of anything they can do Kaká and Darwin Cerén could do too with that duo also finding the back to the net in an eventual 4-0 full-time scoreline.
Serving as a real watershed moment as to how good this Orlando City SC side could be in Major League Soccer, the whole league sat up and took notice of the fluid, possession-based football that we’ve grown accustomed to in the Soccer Capital of the South in recent years.
Orlando City SC vs Montreal Impact – October 3, 2015
As we’re all too painfully aware, a mid-season slump hurt Orlando City SC real bad last term but the past is the past and there’s nothing we can do about it now.
That didn’t stop Adrian Heath‘s side making a real good fist of a late MLS Cup Playoffs push towards the end of 2015 whereby the Lions simply faced must-win home games against the likes of both New York City FC and in this pressure cooker game against Montreal Impact throughout October.
Back in winter last year, the Impact had signed Didier Drogba who was scoring goals for fun and in a huge boost for the Lions with the decorated Ivorian missing this crunch fixture through a desire not to play on the Citrus Bowl’s infamous astro-turf surface from the start, things eventually played into City’s hands.
Pegged back by a Dominic Oduro equaliser after going 1-0 up through Cyle Larin in the 33rd minute, it was the late show for Seb Hines who actually scored with his feet and not his head to smash home an 80th minute winner that kept the Lions’ slim Playoff qualification hopes alive for the time being.
Still one of the loudest Citrus Bowl atmospheres to date on a night where Orlando City SC’s fighting spirit was displayed in abundance and then some!
Orlando City SC vs Real Salt Lake – March 6, 2016
For the world, it looked like a disappointing opening day defeat for Orlando City SC.
To this day, I still don’t know how the Lions pulled off the greatest of salvage jobs surely ever witnessed in MLS?
In all honesty, on opening day of the 2016 MLS campaign, the game against RSL truly passed a lot of the Lions players by but after a topsy turvy encounter that saw dismissals for both Demar Phillips and Darwin Cerén, two goals incredibly scored in both the 94th and 95th minute left everybody at the Citrus Bowl absolutely stunned!
Cyle Larin and Adrian Winter‘s late, late, late goals ensured a point was salvaged when it truly looked an impossible task heading into stoppage time, such was the superiority of Real Salt Lake’s play through the likes of the impressive Joao Plata who had bagged a brace to put RSL 2-0 to the good and in total control… or so they thought!